Issue Eight

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February 2023[edit | edit source]

Institutions both large and small are becoming increasingly aware of the wasteful, energy intensive nature of much of our buildings and preservation practices. Only some are implementing energy saving strategies, waste audits or other sustainable projects. Still others struggle to get internal institutional support. Even though sustainable strategies often offer long term financial savings, many require upfront investments that are cost prohibitive. With this in the mind, this quarter’s Sustainability Now E-Blast provides information on the grants and funding opportunities for your institution’s next sustainability project. We hope this information will encourage institutional buy-in and help your institution take the next steps towards best sustainable practices. We also hope this will inspire funding institutions to develop grants specifically geared towards these types of projects.

The Frankenthaler Climate Initiative (FCI)

The FCI grant launched in partnership with RMI and Environment and Culture Partners offers funding opportunities for institutions of all sizes that include visual arts as part of their mission and programming. Most significantly, the Frankenthaler Climate Initiative recognizes the climate crisis as the most important issue of our time and offers grants of varying amounts to help visual arts institutions be leaders in the fight to preserve the Earth’s climate and the cultural heritage therein. FCI is the largest funding organization for this type of work. In 2022, $3 million of total funding was awarded to 48 institutions.

The Frankenthaler Climate Initiative focuses on energy efficiency and clean energy generation projects at three different stages:

  • Scoping Grants
  • Technical Assistance Grants
  • Implementation Grants

The 2023 grant cycle is now open and interested parties can register to attend the virtual information session on March 1, 2023 at 2 p.s. EST to learn more.

NEH Climate Smart Humanities Organization Grant

Through the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), organizations or consortiums of organizations can apply for funds to create a climate smart plan. The funds can include energy audits, risk assessments, and/or meetings with consultants with the ultimate goal of creating a Climate Smart plan. The funds be used to conduct energy audits, risk assessments, and/or to meet with consultants to put together a climate smart plan that will help your organization to identify goals and minimize its environmental impact through mitigation and adaptation.

Deadlines can be found on the Climate Smart grant webpage. The grant awards a maximum of $300,000 over a maximum of a 24-month period. Funds must be matched at 1:1 through non-federal, third-party gifts.

Information for prospective candidates is available via a recorded webinar.

NEH Sustaining Cultural Heritage Grant

The Sustaining Cultural Heritage Collections Grant, also from the NEH, is geared toward preventive conservation projects. Since sustainability is preventive conservation, this grant is applicable to a range of projects that allow institutions to minimize their energy usage, improve their systems and the resilience of their collection to climate change and increasing natural disasters. There are two levels to this grant.

Level I is available to small or mid-sized institutions that have already completed preservation assessments. This grant is intended to provide small-scale improvements to environmental conditions and other sustainable conservation measures. Level I awards a maximum of $100,000.

Level II is for institutions of any size that have completed planning and are ready to implement a more extensive conservation project. Level II awards a maximum of $350,000.

More information on this grant can be found in a pre-recorded webinar shared on their YouTube channel.

Rome Prize

The Rome Prize is dedicated to funding innovative, cross-disciplinary work making it relevant to sustainable research within the cultural heritage sector. While not geared towards an institution at large, this award could be used to pursue research related to a sustainability project at one’s home institution. The primary criterion for the Rome Prize is excellence. Prizes are awarded to candidates considered experts in their field whose projects are deemed essential to their future growth. The next application cycle begins in Fall 2023.

Capital Projects Grants

A capital project is one that improves or expands existing building facilities or sites. Such work can make the building envelope tighter and stronger, providing better protection to its collection and more resilience to Earth’s changing climate. While grants targeted directly to sustainability projects are limited, Capital Projects grants should be considered when looking for funding to improve a cultural institution’s building envelope and sites. This type of work can improve energy efficiency, lowering energy usage and costs significantly.

An example of one such grant is NEH’s Infrastructure and Capacity Building Challenge Grants. The next cycle will be opening later this month.

The National Trust for Historic Preservation also offers many funding opportunities that may be applicable to your institution and collection. For a list of them, visit:

Grants funding sustainability projects are available, although limited. The Sustainability Committee urges you to reach out to foundations providing grants for our field and advocate for more funding addressing the cultural heritage sector’s sustainability needs. Sustainability work is emergency preparedness. Our field’s response after disasters is necessary and the need will only increase as extreme weather becomes more frequent. However, the time is ripe to preserve Earth’s climate, prevent more extreme changes, and prepare for emergencies through sustainable action, adaptation, and mitigation. The climate crisis is here, and we must respond accordingly. The ability to do so is unfortunately tied to the availability of financial resources. Increasing grants and funding for this work allows for more equitable preservation and response across the entirety of the field.

By Kate Fugett, Network Officer for the Sustainability Committee

Around the field[edit | edit source]

Climate Control

Did you know that the conversation around climate control in cultural heritage institutions made The New York Times! Thanks to Caitlin Southwick at Ki Culture for pushing this conversation forward.

Ki Culture recently hosted the International Climate Control Conference on this very topic. If you missed it, you can still catch it on YouTube:

Change Makers, a Collaborative Webinar

The AIC Sustainability Committee is partnering with ICON to continue this important conversation through a series of Conversations with Change Makers webinars where we will be speaking with institutions who are already implementing energy reduction strategies.

Our first collaborative event with the ICON Sustainability Network—during which we chat with conservators and allied professionals who are implementing changes to reduce the energy consumption of their buildings— is “Conversations with Change Makers - Strategies for Reducing the Energy Consumption of Buildings.” The energy used to heat, cool, de/humidify, and light buildings is one of the biggest environmental impacts of the cultural heritage sector. After decades of regarding one-size-fits-all, non-fluctuating indoor environmental parameters as the gold standard, the field is now questioning the value of this approach, as this recent article in the New York Times attests (“As Energy Costs Bite, Museums Rethink a Conservation Credo” by Alex Marshall, published on February 1, 2023). This webinar will take place on Wednesday, February 22, 12:00 to 1:00 p.m. EST.

We will talk with Nancie Ravenel, Director of Conservation at the Shelburne Museum, and Patricia Silence, Director of Conservation Operations at the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, about the energy-savings strategies implemented at their institutions, both of which are comprised of multiple historic and modern buildings on vast campuses with diverse collections of objects. The conversation will end with an audience Q&A.

Registration is free and open to the public, so sign up now!

Other important events

  • The Arts Council England is reviewing the environmental parameters of its Government Indemnity Scheme. To learn more about this work by Lorraine Finch of ICON’s Sustainability Network, visit the Arts Council England webpage.
  • The Sustainability Committee (SC) has teamed up with the Preventative Care Network (PCN) to host a  workshop, “Applying Sustainability Principles Cross-departmentally at Collecting Institutions,” to be presented at the AIC Annual Meeting in Jacksonville. Make the most of your AIC experience and sign up to be a part of the workshop!